Thanks to Sanda Spasic for sharing this beautiful fable about smallpox, from Living Fearlessly by Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda. As we follow the practical daily steps towards physical hygiene, such as mindfulness of hands and washing of hands, we can also practice a kind of cleansing of the mind and inner world...for the benefit of all beings including ourselves. Taking inner wellness seriously can allow us to access our wide mind and wide heart, and to live joyously even within restrictions that life brings.
While meditating late one night, a certain Saint saw the ghost of the dread smallpox disease entering the village where he lived. “Stop, Mr. Ghost!” he cried. “Go away, you must not molest a town in which I worship God.”
“I will take only three people,” the ghost replied “in accordance with my cosmic karmic duty.” At this the saint unhappily nodded assent.
The following day three persons died of smallpox. But the next day several more died and each day thereafter more villagers were overcome by the fearful disease.
Thinking that a great deception has been played on him, the Saint meditated deeply and summoned the ghost. When it came, the saint rebuked it.
“Mr. Ghost, you deceived me and did not speak the truth when you said you take only three people with your smallpox."
But the ghost replied, “By the great Spirit, I did speak truth to you.”
The saint persisted, “You promise to take only three persons, and scores have succumbed to the disease.”
“I took only three,” said the ghost. “The rest killed themselves with fear.”
You must resurrect your mind from the consciousness of disease -- from the thought of disease. You are the invulnerable Spirit; but the body now rules the mind. The mind must rule the body…
What are you afraid of? You are an immortal being. You are neither a man nor a woman as you may think, but a soul, joyous, eternal.